Afternoon energy slump
It’s 3 pm and you’ve hit a wall. You’re fatigued, sluggish, unfocused. Research in 2009 published in the journal Sleep suggested a mid-afternoon slump is a normal part of our circadian rhythm, or the body’s internal sleep clock.
But more recent clinical wisdom suggests that this isn’t necessarily always the case. If a major dip in energy is a regular hurdle in your daily routine, diabetes specialists say it’s possible that a crash in your blood sugar could be to blame.
What causes blood sugar to crash?
A brief dietetics lesson: carbohydrates are a source of fuel for our body. They’re easy to break down into glucose, the ‘simple’ sugar, which makes for a potent punch of energy for our cells, tissues and organs.
While our body transforms the carbs we eat into glucose, the pancreas releases insulin. This hormone directs this glucose into cells to keep the amount of sugar in our blood stable. Whenever we eat more sugary carbs than usual, our body simply releases extra insulin to manage this excess.
People with diabetes have difficulty keeping blood sugar levels stable because of their body’s inability to properly respond to this insulin – so they’re prone to blood sugar swings without proper management. But if you don’t have diabetes, the excess insulin works to clear extra sugar from your blood quickly.
As sugar levels return to normal, it can leave you feeling foggy and fatigued. Over time, blood sugar spikes and dips can lead to insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes. And if you’re experiencing highs and lows on a regular basis, this can lead to prediabetes.
That’s why it’s important to try and maintain nice, stable blood sugar. Limiting sweets, cakes and other foods with added sugars is a good start, but diabetes nutrition experts educate us on the less-than-obvious foods that can cause blood sugar spikes.
Just about all fruits are naturally sweet. However, says dietitian, Natalie Allen, watermelon can have a stronger effect on your blood sugar because it contains less fibre and protein than fruits like berries and apples.
That doesn’t mean you have to avoid it altogether, but consider adding a protein or fat – like feta cheese – to your watermelon slice to help your body slow down the absorption of this melon’s sugar content.